Hellenic Sorceress

In the Greek myths, the only beings who practice magic are the gods and a few mortal women who devote themselves to the darker aspects of Hecate, the goddess of magic. Feared for their power by other mortals, they are tainted in some slight way, either by a lack of morals or a touch of madness. Still, the Hellenic sorceress is a woman with many skills valuable to a traveling hero, and more than once she has been the only reason the heroes succeeded, or survived at all. Circe and Medea are examples of the Hellenic sorceress class.

Adventurers: Most Hellenic sorceresses prefer to work alone in secluded places, pursuing their magic to the exclusion of all else, but from time to time they encounter someone worth their attention, and once convinced that their involvement would benefit them they have been known to travel with adventuring heroes on their adventures. Their experiences researching the depths of the mind and the underworld inure them to the commonplace horrors of the mortal world, and often the sorceress finds herself bolstering the courage of her heroic allies frozen at the sight of some horrific monster created at the birth of the world.

Characteristics: Hellenic sorceresses cast arcane spells, many of which draw upon the sorceress’ knowledge of strange drugs and magical herbs. Their spells are oriented toward affecting creatures’ minds, creating illusions, certain aspects of necromancy, and transforming men into beasts. They have little interest in weapons, preferring to thwart enemies with spells and protect themselves with special magic and intervention by allies or charmed slaves.

Religion: All Hellenic sorceresses worship the Greek gods, for they understand that all power, magical or otherwise, comes from the gods or their titan forbears. In fact, many Hellenic sorceresses are directly descended from the gods (Circe was a daughter of Helios, god of the sun, and some say that Medea was Circe’s niece). They specifically revere Hecate as their patron goddess. Sorceresses are still mortals and have been known to defy godly laws—Medea murdered her own brother, one of the most terrible sins in Greek culture—but if they do they still keep their magical powers, though they may be punished by the gods for their transgressions.

Background: Sorceresses are born with the talent for their magic, but most never realize it because they are never initiated into the study of magic. The lucky few are found by an established sorceress, trained in the basics of magic, and then leave to study on their own. This means that every sorceress knows at least one other of her kind, though they may not be friendly toward each other. Most established sorceresses usually have one or more apprentices on hand to work as servants while they learn magic.

Other Classes: Sorceresses see the world divided into three parts: the gods, sorceresses, and everyone else. Many treat common people and even heroes with utter contempt, regardless of their profession, valuing them only for the minimal services they can perform.

Role: The sorceress is the source of magic and knowledge in the party. Of all the classes in the Argonauts campaign, only the sorceress has any sort of spellcasting and access to multiple Knowledge class skills. While she has few direct damage attacks, her magic is useful for bolstering her allies or befuddling strong enemies.

Alignment: Any. Because they study things mortals were not meant to know and sometimes flaunt the laws of mortals and gods, few Hellenic sorceresses are good or lawful. Because some of their spells draw on evil forces, even the rare good sorceresses usually become neutral or evil after a while.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills

The Hellenic sorceress's class skills are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perform (sing) (Cha), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: Hellenic Sorceress

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 New moon casting, cantrips 3
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3   4
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Power focus 6 3
5th +2 +1 +1 +4
6 4
6th +3 +2 +2 +5
6 5 3
7th +3 +2 +2 +5
6 6 4
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Power focus 6 6 5 3
9th +4 +3 +3 +6
6 6 6 4
10th +5 +3 +3 +7
6 6 6 5 3
11th +5 +3 +3 +7
6 6 6 6 4
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Power focus 6 6 6 6 5 3
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8
6 6 6 6 6 4
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9
6 6 6 6 6 5 3
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9
6 6 6 6 6 6 4
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 Power focus 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Power focus 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Hellenic sorceress.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A Hellenic sorceress is proficient in all simple weapons but not with any armor or with shields. Armor interferes with a Hellenic sorceress's gestures, which can cause her spells with somatic components to fail (see Arcane Spells and Armor).


Table: Hellenic Sorceress Spells Known

Level 0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st 4 2
2nd 5 2
3rd 5 3
4th 6 3 1
5th 6 4 2
6th 7 4 2 1
7th 7 5 3 2
8th 8 5 3 2 1
9th 8 5 4 3 2
10th 9 5 4 3 2 1
11th 9 5 5 4 3 2
12th 9 5 5 4 3 2 1*
13th 9 5 5 4 4 3 2*
14th 9 5 5 4 4 3 2* 1*
15th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 2*
16th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 2* 1*
17th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 3* 2*
18th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 3* 2* 1*
19th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 3* 3* 2*
20th 9 5 5 4 4 4 3* 3* 3* 3*

* A Hellenic sorceress doesn’t gain spells known for these spell levels but can use them for lower-level spells or to increase the DC of one of her existing spells known.

A Hellenic sorceress casts arcane spells drawn primarily from the Hellenic sorceress's spell list. She can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a Hellenic sorceress must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a class name's spell is 10 + the spell level + the class name's Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a Hellenic sorceress can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Hellenic Sorceress. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Charisma score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

A Hellenic sorceress's selection of spells is extremely limited. A class name begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of her choice. At each new class name level, she gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Hellenic Sorceress Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a Hellenic sorceress knows is not affected by her Charisma score; the numbers on Table: Hellenic Sorceress Spells Known are fixed.) These new spells can be common spells chosen from the Hellenic sorceress spell list, or they can be unusual spells that the class name has gained some understanding of through study.

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered Hellenic sorceress level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a Hellenic sorceress can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the Hellenic sorceress loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A Hellenic sorceress may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the level.

Unlike a wizard or a cleric, a Hellenic sorceress need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not yet used up her spells per day for that spell level.

Because the level of magic in the Greek myths is weaker than your standard fantasy campaign, the Hellenic sorceress spell list has no spells above 5th-level. To offset this, the Hellenic sorceress has other special abilities that augment her spellcasting.

When a Hellenic sorceress would normally gain a new spell known of level 6, 7, 8, or 9, she may instead use it for one of two things. First, she may use it to learn a lower-level spell on the Hellenic sorceress spell list. Second, she may apply a +1 modifier to the DC of one of her existing spells known.

Hellenic Sorceress Spell List

Hellenic sorceresses gain access to the following spells.

0th-Level: daze, detect magic, detect poison, ghost sound, know direction, light, open/close, purify food and drink, resistance.

1st-Level: calm animals, cause fear, charm animal, Hellenic disguise self, disrupt undead, endure elements, obscuring mist, silent image.

2nd-Level: darkness, daze monster, Hellenic false life, fog cloud, gust of wind, lesser earthquake, minor image, Hellenic resist energy, scare, whispering wind.

3rd-Level: Hellenic deep slumber, erase memories, heroism, major image, deathcloak.

4th-Level: Hellenic baleful polymorph, bestow curse, Hellenic control weather, crushing despair, dragon chariot, fear, locate creature, phantasmal killer, Hellenic remove curse, Hellenic stoneskin.

5th-Level: atonement, break enchantment, Hellenic commune, Hellenic finger of death, hold monster, vitality of youth.

Evil Spells

A good sorceress cannot cast spells with the Evil descriptor.

New Moon Casting (Su)

Starting at 1st level, under a new moon, or above ground when the sky conditions obscure the light of the moon (such as heavy clouds), a Hellenic sorceress gets a +1 bonus to her Hellenic sorceress caster level.


Hellenic sorceresses learn a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Hellenic Sorceress Spells Known under “Spells Known.” These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Power Focus (Su)

At 4th level, the Hellenic sorceress can craft a handheld power focus item such as a ring, scepter, graven stone, or wand (a short magical stick of wood, bone, or metal, not a spell trigger item in the traditional game sense). She chooses one spell she knows, and increases the DC of that spell by +2 when using the item as a focus component. At 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level she chooses one other spell known to be augmented this way using the same power focus. Crafting the focus requires no gp or time, as it is assumed she has been perfecting this item in her spare time. However, if the focus is ever lost, broken, or stolen she must spend 500 gp and one day’s work to replace it.

For example, Circe is a 4th-level Hellenic sorceress with 18 Charisma. She crafted an ivory wand to be her power focus, choosing daze monster as the spell to augment with the focus, increasing its DC from 16 to 18 (10 + 2 spell level + 4 Charisma modifier + 2 power focus) when she uses the wand as a focus for that spell. At 8th-level she chooses Hellenic baleful polymorph as a spell known and as her new spell to augment with her power focus, increasing its DC from 18 to 20 when she uses the wand as a focus for that spell.

Behind the Curtain: The Hellenic Sorceress

Compared to the Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard, it may make you wonder why this class is even in the book. The simple answer is that even though the Greek myths describe the exploits of great warrior-heroes and explorers, sorceresses play a key role in two of the best-known Greek tales: the Odyssey, with Circe as the Witch who transforms Odysseus’ crew, and the tale of the Argonauts, with Medea as the Witch whose magic drugs and herbs are the key to Jason winning the Golden Fleece (and later the key to his ruin). Clearly the Greeks recognized the role of magic in their myths and legends, but their bias toward males and warcraft relegated magic’s role (outside of godly intervention) to that of a foil for the heroes or someone to turn to only when all other things failed. The Hellenic sorceress fits this role in an lower magic Greek mythology campaign. It is quite possible to run an entire low magic campaign without a spellcaster, but some campaigns may require the services of one and in those cases the extreme power of a Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard in a low-magic world can throw the system out of whack; the Hellenic sorceress limits the power and abilities of the spellcasting class to something appropriate for a lower-magic campaign so the DM doesn’t have to worry about a cone of cold wiping out all of the PCs and breaking the feel of the campaign.

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have Hellenic sorceress as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.

Race Bonus Source

3rd Party Publishers

Archetypes & Alternate Class Features

When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.

Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.

Table: Hellenic Sorceress Archetypes / Alternate Class Features

Archetype / Alternate Class Feature Class Features Changed or Replaced
Class Skills Weapon & Armor Spells Cantrips New Moon Casting Power Focus
4 8 12 16 20

3rd Party Publishers

X=replaced, (X)=optional replacement, C=changed